Vandalized MLK bust removed for repairs

As USF celebrates Black Emphasis Month, there is one thing missing from campus.

Officials from Physical Plant had to remove the Martin Luther King Jr. bust from MLK Plaza because of recurring vandalism to the bronze statue.

The bust was removed from its location Friday after damages were reported to University Police, said Sgt. Mike Klingebiel, spokesman for UP.

And it’s not the first time the bust has been vandalized, Klingebiel said.

Klingebiel said the bust was removed from its base and thrown into the MLK reflection pool on Sept. 2.

Police were led from a witness report to arrest a non-affiliate of USF later that night, near the residence halls, he said.

Vincent Ahern, coordinator for public art for the institute of research in art, said the art department will have to make a second set of repairs to the bust.

Ahern said he is not sure how long it will take or how much it will cost.

A Physical Plant official discovered the bust was damaged at about 2 p.m. Friday.

Ahern said they were checking on repairs from the previous vandalism and saw it was damaged where the base and the statue connect.

“My office was contacted by a supervisor when Physical Plant noticed it was loosened from the pedestal base,” Ahern said. “I came up to take a look at it and realized the vandals had been at work.”

Ahern said metal anchors, which were installed to attach the bust after previous damages, were becoming detached from the cement in the base. Officials removed the bronze statute to prevent any further damage or possible theft.

Ahern said he believes the bust may have been lifted off the base with a crowbar.

“It was locked into the cement so it really would take considerable effort,” Ahern said. “The surface was damaged from the initial incident, which means we have to develop a technique to develop a security system of how we engineer anchoring and keep track of it on site.”

Klingebiel said Jan. 24 was the last time the bust was inspected. The vandalism, he said, does not constitute a hate crime, since it is against property and not a person.

UP is investigating the case as criminal mischief.